Skip to main content

Koivu scores 2 of Minnesota's 4 power-play goals in 4-2 victory over Oilers

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Mikko Koivu said he was nervous before Minnesota's home opener. It didn't show.

Koivu scored two of Minnesota's four power-play goals and the Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers at home for the 14th straight time, 4-2 on Thursday night.

Antti Miettinen and Matt Cullen each had a goal and an assist for Minnesota, which tied the longest current home winning streak against a team. Nashville has beaten Columbus 14 straight times in Tennessee.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots to improve to 12-0-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average lifetime at home against the Oilers. Minnesota is 9-0-1 in home openers, winning the last nine.

Wild players said the numbers are nice, but they are more satisfied with how they bounced back in their first game this season in North America. Minnesota gained just one of four points last week against Carolina in two games in Helsinki.

"You always have to be desperate to get wins," Koivu said. "I think we were tonight and it worked for us."

Dustin Penner and Minnesota native Tom Gilbert scored for Edmonton, which has scored more than two goals just once during the St. Paul losing streak and has been outscored 50-18.

"As a pro, you need to come in and think you'll be victorious," Penner said.

With Minnesota trailing 2-1, Koivu was all alone at the left edge of the crease for an easy tip of a pass from Cullen at 14:31 of the second period. With Edmonton's Jim Vandermeer in the penalty box for an interference call two seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Koivu was credited with his second goal 52 seconds later after a goalmouth scramble in which Edmonton's Ladislav Smid appeared to accidentally knock the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin with his skate as the defenceman tried to clear Andrew Brunette out of the crease.

Until that stretch, coach Todd Richards was not thrilled with the Wild's performance in the second period.

"We were standing around watching a lot of the period. But our power play stepped up and the guys that you need had the opportunities," Richards said. "That really switched the momentum around and got the crowd back into the game."

Cullen's slap shot went off Gilbert's skate and into the Edmonton net for another power-play goal 7:37 into the third.

Seven of Minnesota's eight goals this season have come with the man advantage. Edmonton was successful on all nine of its penalty kills in its first two games, wins over Calgary and Florida.

"They got pucks to the net, got bodies there. You can't expect your goalie to make all the saves all the time," Gilbert said. "They caught us running around a little bit and they got guys that can make a lot of passes and that's exactly what they did."

Edmonton head coach Tom Renney said there is plenty of blame to go around, not just the defencemen.

"Penalty-killing starts in your own end, and there's a centreman that's got to win a draw, and I had one guy over 50 per cent tonight," Renney said. "We had a difficult time in our own end tonight for the first time in three games."

Miettinen gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the opening period, tipping in a feed from Brunette.

Penner tied it on a power play early in the second, taking a feed from Ales Hemsky near the top of the slot and putting it between Backstrom' pads. It was Penner's second goal in two games.

Gilbert scored on a slapshot to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead midway through the second.

NOTES: Wild D Marek Zidlicky played his first game of the season. He missed the first two games because of a groin injury. ... Minnesota has scored four power-play goals at home seven times in franchise history. ... Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff are the only Oilers who were with the team when it last won in Minnesota. ... Minnesota C John Madden, Edmonton C Colin Fraser and Oilers assistant coach Steve Smith received their Stanley Cup rings Thursday. Madden scored once for Chicago last season, Fraser seven times and Smith was a scout.



World Junior Championship Roundup: Czechia, Finland, USA Victorious on Day 1

The second attempt at the 2022 World Junior Championship kicked off in Edmonton on Tuesday, with Czechia, Finland and USA grabbing early wins.


NHL Hot Seat Radar: Calgary Flames

It's been an up-and-down summer for the Flames, losing two beloved stars but bringing in a big name in Jonathan Huberdeau. Expectations will be high right out of the gate for the talented winger.


Hurricanes Sign Necas to Two-Year Extension, Avoid Arbitration

The Carolina Hurricanes have agreed to terms with forward Martin Necas on a two-year contract extension.